It’s no secret that principals are pretty stoked when students who transfer into their schools have a history of high scores on required annual tests. School leaders feel great pressure to perform in the public eye and having a few more kids to bump those numbers up is certainly a welcome surprise. It’s usually light hearted and all in good… Read more →
A military spouse whose family has moved 16 times and whose children attended 11 different schools makes a compelling case on an issue that continues to be politicized —the embrace of Common Core State Standards. Patty Hunzeker, an educator now living in Virginia and a member of Military Families for High Standards, has seen first hand the learning loss experienced by students who… Read more →
Those who were quick to dismiss the Common Core assessments as fatally flawed are having to eat their words.The evidence is in, and it looks like those states that stayed the course with Smarter Balanced and PARCC are in a far more stable position than those states that bowed to political pressure and retreated. As this U.S. News and World Report commentary… Read more →
The Hechinger Report, news story, 6-7-2016
The MCAS has long been considered one of the nation’s best tests at assessing student performance. But the shift to the Common Core State Standards meant it would have to go. The PAARC tests, used in states such as Illinois and New Jersey since 2015, were supposed to be even better. Not the joy-killing machines ruining childhood, as so many critics have portrayed standardized tests, but true measures of whether children were learning the key skills they would need as grown-ups: how to think critically, solve problems, make a convincing argument, and write a coherent paragraph.
Instead, the uproar over testing has only gotten louder. The increased difficulty of PARCC and other Common Core-aligned exams sent pass rates plummeting, while teacher evaluations linked to scores have fueled union-led fights, including those now unfolding in Massachusetts. And the continued use of multiple-choice questions has parents, teachers, and kids questioning whether the new tests could be much better than what they were replacing.
Amid the controversy, the Massachusetts Board of Education decided last fall to create an MCAS/PARCC hybrid unique to this state. Officials and educators are optimistic that by retaining control over the test, they will help preserve Massachusetts’s spot at the top of the US educational pack.
According to a recent report, 90 percent of parents nationwide believe their children are on track in reading and math—when in fact fewer than 40 percent reach proficiency on a national exam called NAEP. In my home state of Colorado, the gap between parental beliefs and student proficiency yawns nearly as wide: 86 percent believe their students are meeting or… Read more →
Education Week, 5-17-2016
A first-of-its-kind study has found that students who score at the “college-ready” level on the PARCC exam are well-positioned to earn good grades in college. The findings provide early evidence that the assessment does what it was designed to do: measure college readiness.
The Massachusetts Department of Education commissioned Mathematica Policy Research to do the study last year, as it was considering whether to use PARCC in 2017 or keep using its longtime test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS. Massachusetts decided to create a hybrid of the two tests. A summary of the study, which compares PARCC and MCAS, was published Tuesday in a peer-reviewed journal, Education Next.
Researchers at Mathematica wanted to know how closely a “college-ready” score on PARCC and a “proficient” score on MCAS correlate with a good grade-point-average in freshman-year college study, and with the need to take remedial courses. They had freshmen in Massachusetts state colleges and universities take the PARCC and the MCAS in the spring of 2015 and examined how those scores, from 847 students, correlated with their grades and remediation patterns at the time.
PARCC testing begins tomorrow for my two oldest boys. They talk of it matter of factly, with the 5th grader claiming he likes testing days. I used to be the same way, enjoying a change of pace from the usual school day. And 3rd grader boasts that he can now type faster than at least one other kid in his… Read more →
Be Like Mike. Those three words were part of a very catchy, even iconic, Gatorade commercial back in the early 1990s featuring Michael Jordan shining on the basketball court, and smiling big while surrounded by crowds of kids and fans who wanted to be just like him. Well, with a slight tweak of one word, Rhode Island may have found… Read more →
The second year of PARCC testing is underway, with a shorter, simplified exam that state officials hope means fewer headaches than last year. The digital exam, which is officially called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, debuted in Illinois last spring. It was designed to better assess students’ critical-thinking and writing skills, aptitudes more in line with Common Core curriculum.
Remember the Hans Christian Anderson story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” A vain king hires two swindlers who swear to him that they can sew for him the finest suit of clothes that to wise men will be beautiful but to fools will be invisible. The whole court, fearful of appearing foolish, gush over the ostensibly gorgeous garment. But during… Read more →